Besides all-important cadaver dogs, slashed already from the police department are many other services residents may not even be aware of, services which are needed to ensure the safety of the county’s residents, Carver says.
Twenty members of the department’s gang suppression units were reassigned, and its anti-crime units were eliminated in every precinct except the First, Third and Fifth this past year, he explains. The entire DWI unit has been dismantled. Problem Oriented Policing, better known as POP units, were decreased from four to one in each precinct, redeploying 24 officers. Recently, the motor carrier safety unit redeployed four officers, leaving only two, he says. The unit had 12 officers only two years ago. In addition, the motorcycle unit lost four officers responsible for traffic enforcement, escorts for dignitaries, funerals and special events.
The number of officers assigned to Nassau’s major malls was also reduced, he continues. The Bureau of Special Operations (BSO)—a specially trained squad that deals with hostage-taking situations, armed robberies, criminals with weapons, undercover operations and serves as a critical backup to regular officers—has also been slashed from 84 members to 54 members, says Carver, with more cuts expected. The federally funded national Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) program was totally eliminated, he adds. With gang activity on the rise, GREAT was used as an educational program, whereby police officers went into schools and talked about drugs and gangs. It was not only a needed training, explains Carver, but for many Nassau children their first positive encounter with a police officer.
It’s not just neighborhood crimes within communities that his members deal with, continues Carver—Nassau is surrounded by approximately 220 miles of shoreline. In addition to the safety of boaters, the police department’s Marine Bureau patrols areas identified by Homeland Security as potential terrorist targets. The unit has 42 members that are permanently assigned, historically growing by 12 to 15 additional officers during the busy summer season. Now, those extra cops are down to six, two of which are out on extended sick leave.
Collectively, the officers that have been reassigned from all the various units this year had issued more than 10,500 tickets last year and made hundreds of arrests, Carver says, stressing that the result is not only a loss of revenue to the county, but more importantly, an increase in the probability of having more dangerous conditions for residents.
Krumpter understands the revenue loss, he tells the Press, but insists that cops will continue to write tickets.
“Police departments from our perspective write tickets to ensure pubic safety, not to generate revenue,” he snipes.
All these cuts have taken place while the department has assigned their own personnel to work with the NCPDF, the fundraising organization housed in police headquarters as a “public/private partnership.” The group is conducting an all-out campaign to build a multimillion-dollar police academy, while the present one has been, according to Carver, “Virtually emptied out. The only thing they do is firearms training and the only reason is that it is required by contract.”
While the fundraising continues for an academy that has no foreseeable recruits and few if any officers attending for training purposes, the firearms range, which Carver says is urgently needed now, was closed again, and officials are still waiting for safety alterations to be made.
And somewhere in the constant money battle, more than jobs have been lost: morale too has fallen. Kevin Tobin, second vice president of the police union, says the cops that remain are still out doing their job, but they are feeling the effects as well. He has a simple request for management: “Hold the police officer in high esteem and give them the training and the tools to go out there day after day.”
Yet Carver claims that money has also not been available for one of those critical tools: Automatic Electronic Defibrillators, which are responsible for saving thousands of lives. All the patrol cars are equipped with outdated units, he laments, hammering the administration for having no problem finding the funding for pet projects, such as new Astroturf for recreational fields.
“We have 40 grievances pending [about this],” gripes Carver. “They are all outdated. With ball fields they wasted no time—AEDs can save a kid’s life.
“[Mangano] wants the parks to be the most beautiful parks in the world while he is destroying our police department,” he adds.
There is now a three-year phase in Nassau’s capital plan to replace them, according to Krumpter. Carver maintains that is just too long.
Perhaps the most controversial Mangano move, however, is the planned closure of two of the county’s eight precincts. Though still unidentified, Carver tells the Press his theory is Mangano will choose the Second in Woodbury and the Fourth in Hewlett [the Sixth in Manhasset has also been mentioned as a potential candidate].
While there will be the same amount of car posts, one of the major effects of the precinct cuts, explains Carver, will be that the patrol cars, in some cases, will have longer distances to respond. He believes the department’s top brass will not want the officers to go back to headquarters to process arrests but to do so in their cars.
“I have never seen a prisoner processed in the back seat of a police car, never seen a detective conduct an interview in the back of a police car, never seen a criminal investigation conducted in the back of a police car,” he says.
“Police cars don’t have evidence lockers. There is no boss there. The police car has become a report-taking car, instead of an investigatory and chronic intervention tool. They will sit on the phone with data processing, which has [also] been affected by attrition.”
Ciccone believes the closures will affect detectives as well.
“Detectives are based out of their local precinct,” he explains. “A large part of their investigation is conducted within the station house—whether it is interrogation or an interview with a witness. In addition, detectives working out of another station house will be that much further removed from the area where the witness, subjects and crime scenes are located.”
Krumpter insists that the plan to close two precincts will not affect the department. Instead, he says the workload will be more equally spread out among the six proposed new precincts.
“What we are looking to do is to create a situation where no precinct will be busier that the department’s current busiest precinct, and leveling out the workload and maximizing the overall efficiency within a precinct,” he says.
“People have always had a fondness for the precincts,” continues Krumpter. “They are a big part of the community—they are ingrained in the community. Ultimately it was a choice among a lot of bad choices.”
“[Mangano] wanted his car show, and 70 or 80 cops were paid overtime,” fumes Carver. “No elected official ordinance position is being asked to take a pay cut. The Mangano administration thinks parks are more important than public safety. They are upgrading cabanas while tearing down precincts.”